Locks and Dams

Soy Coalition Releases Lock Funding Study

The Texas A&M Transportation Institute has released a study prepared for the Soy Transportation Coalition (STC) emphasizing that the most “critical need for the inland waterways system is a sustainable and well-executed plan for maintaining system reliability.”

The study, titled “Predictable Funding for Locks and Dams,” is the third in a series of studies on the topic produced for the STC. In 2011, it produced “America’s Locks & Dams: A Ticking Time Bomb For Agriculture?” and in 2012, it published “New Approaches for U.S. Lock and Dam Maintenance and Funding.”

In a press release accompanying the study’s release, the STC said, “The condition of the nation’s inland waterways continues to remain a priority for U.S. soybean farmers. Last year, 97.2 million tons of soybeans were transported via the system—connecting farmers with international customers.”

Mike Steenhoek, executive director of the STC, said, “If I were to design a funding approach that would result in guaranteed cost overruns and construction delays, I would design the system we have in place.”

Using publicly available information, the report describes the cost escalations and project delays resulting from the current “unpredictable and piecemeal funding approaches” and identifies best practices that will enhance the likelihood of lock and dam construction and rehabilitation being completed on time and under budget.

The report compares a hypothetical lock and dam project built via the current piecemeal funding approach with one constructed with reliable and predictable funding. The hypothetical project, with a five-year construction timeline and $500 million budget, would be completed on time and within budget with reliable and predictable funding. The same project, with the same initial cost estimate and timeline, would cost $573 million and take eight years to complete under the current funding approach, the report said.

The report is available on the coalition’s website,  www.soytransportation.org.